Teaching Kids to Serve Others
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Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to the Foundation Worldview Podcast, where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the kids God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview.
I'm Elizabeth Urbanowicz, your host, and I'm so excited you've joined me today. Today we're going to dive right into our question, which is what are some good ideas to serve with my kids whose ages are nine, six and five?
Now I loved this question when it came in because I loved the heart behind it, that someone is really seeking to have their kids serve even at young ages, which we know that this is part of what we're called to do as Christians. And so I know a lot of people are probably wondering this question.
You know, I want to involve my kids in serving, but how do I do this at even young ages? So that's what we're going to talk about today. Now anytime I answer a question, I always really like to dive deep into the concept so that we make sure we understand what we're talking about before we talk through how do we live this out?
So the question first is what is serving? Well, serving is giving of ourselves to meet the needs of another, okay. It might not be their felt needs, what they think they need, but their actual needs. So giving of ourselves to meet the needs, the actual needs of another.
Well, then the next question we have to examine is what is the purpose of serving? Why are we serving? Well, when we think about what we see in scripture, we know that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
And then the second commandment, the second greatest commandment is like it, to love our neighbor as we love ourself. So part of loving God and being faithful to the calling of seeking God and serving him is serving others, serving his image bearers. So when we reach out to serve what we're doing is we're actually reflecting the love of God to others.
So that's why we serve, that should be the motivation behind why we serve. But then that's the next question is, does our motivation to serve, our motivation to serve and our motivation to have our children serve, does this align with what is clear in scripture that we are to serve as a way of loving God through loving others?
And so sometimes our motives can be difficult to discern, but it's really important to think through what our motives are behind different actions. When we think about wanting to serve ourselves or get our children involved in serving, are we simply wanting to model for them a life of service or are we genuinely seeking to give of ourselves to meet the needs of another?
Because obviously we do want to be modeling service. We want to be modeling so many things that we're called to do in the Bible before our children, but our motivation behind doing these things can't just be to model it for our children, because that motivation is eventually going to fail us, that our motivation needs to be a deep love for God.
And we're not just modeling this for our children because we want to be a good role model for them, but we're doing this, we're actually seeking to serve because we genuinely believe that it's what we're called to do as Christians. So we really need to just evaluate our motivation in why are we serving?
And we need to be really careful, especially making sure that our children are not the motivation for this because in our culture, even within Christian culture, it's very easy to allow children to become an idol, to allow our children to take the role that God should be playing in our life.
So it's really important for us to evaluate, are we genuinely seeking to do this to serve God or are we just seeking to make our children an idol? So we really need to evaluate our motivation there. And you might be thinking, Elizabeth, what are you talking about my children becoming an idol?
Well, in secular culture, children have become an idol in the way that they've become a commodity, that we don't have children when we don't want them. We have tons of ways of avoiding having children. And then when we finally decide that we want to have children, then we have children and we have as many children as we want.
And before they're born, we make sure that they're going to be healthy. And if they're not, then we abort that pregnancy. And so children in secular culture have become an idol in that they're just another commodity to fulfill our own selfish desires. But sometimes within the Christian community, children can become an idol as well in that we think that our entire mission in life is to raise these children.
Now that is a very important thing that we are called to do, that we are called to raise our children up in the fear and instruction of the Lord, but we're to do that not out of a desire to have perfect children or to make sure that all of our children follow Jesus, which we do want, but to do it to be obedient to the commands of God.
My friend Christopher Yuan says, and his parents say this as well that, "The goal of being a godly parent is not to raise godly children. The goal of being a godly parent is to honor God, to be obedient to God." And so we need to make sure that we're not allowing our children to take a place in our life that only belongs to God, that we are not placing our children on the throne of our life.
Okay. That was a lot just for this question about how do we serve? Okay. So we need to make sure that we understand what service is, okay. That it's giving of ourself to meet another's need, that we understand exactly why we're to serve, that we need to serve because we love God and we're loving him through loving others.
And then making sure that our own motivation for serving aligns with this loving God. Now you may be thinking, actually, I'm not sure my motivation lines up that way. That's good that you've recognized that. And we can't always immediately on a dime, just change our motivation or the affection of our hearts, but we can be aware of that and ask God to change our hearts.
And to be careful that as we're thinking about why we're doing this, we're continually reminding ourselves that we're doing this out of a love for God and a desire to be obedient to him. And that we're doing this just as a way of life. We're not strictly doing this to model this for our children.
In a webinar I recently did on raising kids who don't walk away from Jesus, I told the story of how my parents continually served. And yes, they involved us and many times they just took us along. There's pictures that we have in an old family photo album of my mom walking around with me in a front pack while she was directing vacation Bible school at our church.
There's other pictures my parents were also leading the high school youth group. They would just pack us up and we'd come along with them. That we want to make sure that service is just a part of our everyday life. So now to get to the question, what are some practical things that we can do to involve the children that God has placed in our care in service?
Well, the first thing that we can do is look for opportunities to serve the local body of Christ. Look for opportunities to reach out to those in your church, in your local body to serve them.
In Galatians 6, Paul writes, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." That were especially to be laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And then Jesus in John 13, he said, "By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another." So we are first and foremost to be serving the body of Christ. Now if you don't know anyone in your local body of Christ, first of all, be intentional at getting to know them.
If you go to a church where it's so large and everybody just walks in, worships God and walks out and nobody knows each other's name unless you're in their small group, be intentional, start getting to know people.
Or pray through, would the Lord have you be part of a local body that's actually smaller where you can get to know others and the pastors can really get to know you and shepherded you. And then once you know those in the local body of Christ, really easy thing to do, make a meal for someone. With your kids, make a meal.
Make a meal for a new mom who has a lot going on and just doesn't have time to cook. Make a meal for a family who's sick. Make a meal for a large family, just surprise them. Okay. I'm sure that would be a blessing to them. Babysit. Babysit for a single mom in your church who might just need an afternoon off.
Babysit for another family, have the kids over, give them a night away. If you have kids that are old enough to write, or even if you don't have kids that are old enough to write, if they can just color pictures, have them write a letter or color a picture for an elderly person at your church.
When I was growing up, there was an elderly man in our church named Mr. Bartel. And he was in a nursing home. I don't remember how old I was when he went to the nursing home, but I just know that every Tuesday for multiple years my mom would pack us up after school and we would go and visit Mr. Bartel in the nursing home, just so that he could have company.
It wasn't a one and done deal like we were checking something off the list to make ourselves feel good. My mom was actually giving of her time to encourage this older man so that he would have someone at least once a week visit him. So look at how can you serve in your local body? A lot of times when we think of service, we think it has to be a big thing.
It has to be somehow going on a missions trip, or it has to be feeding the hungry and those things aren't bad. Yes, let's look for opportunities where we can help our kids invest in those who are less fortunate. Okay. Let's raise money for a food pantry. Let's bring food to a food pantry. Okay.
Let's look for those opportunities, but let's first start within our local body of Christ because that's where we're called to start and to just make it an everyday part of our lives. So it's not like, "Oh, today's our one day of service this month or this year." But so that it's just a regular rhythm of our family life.
Then serve those in your neighborhood. We're called to be Jesus' representatives in the places where he's called us to live. It's no accident that you are living at this time, in this culture, in your exact house, on your exact block. So be intentional at actually investing in your neighbors.
So look for some of those same things, who can you make a meal for in your neighborhood? Who can you babysit for in your neighborhood? Is there an elderly person that you can go over and rake leaves or cut the grass or pull weeds? Could you even just invite some people over into your driveway to have pizza one night?
Look for ways that you can serve in your neighborhood. So just look for things that are very practical and can just become an everyday rhythm in your family life. Because what we want to do is we want to love God with our all. And then as we're loving God with all our all, our children will see that and we can include them in this time of service.
Well, that's a wrap for today, but as you go forth from here, my prayer is that God will continue to bless you and guide you and give you wisdom as you faithfully disciple the children he has placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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